12 Water Games for the pool and backyard

We are now officially in the sun drenched, heated heart of summer. If your kids are anything like mine, that means playing in, around, and with water every chance they get. The problem is those days at the pool or afternoons in the yard with the sprinkler can get a little old. Everyone needs a little something new thrown into the mix to keep the summer fun fresh and exciting. Check out this list of supercool water games for the pool and even some “splashtastic” ideas that can be played with a little space in the backyard.

Boys playing with water

Water Fun in the Backyard

  1. Knock ‘em Down
    Give water squirters a little focus and purpose by stacking plastic cups into a pyramid and then shooting them down. Have kids compete to see who can knock down the most cups or who can do it from the furthest distance away.
  2. Spray Bottle Fun – Water guns can be tricky for younger kids and it seems like the smaller water guns need to be refilled about every 2 minutes! Save yourself some sanity and pick up some spray bottles. You can use the smaller ones in the health and beauty department or you could go big with the cleaning solution size. Just be sure to label and decorate the toy bottles from any real cleaning solutions you may have at home. Squeezing those spray handles is actually a great tool to strengthen hand muscles in your young children.
  3. Water Paint the Sidewalk – My kids LOVE to take regular ol’ paint brushes from the home improvement section, a bucket of water, and go to town on our patio, driveway, and sidewalk. The water acts like paint on the dry surface but dries up so quickly that they never run out of space. This works especially well for playing tic-tac-toe!
  4. Wash Station – Sometimes our outdoor toys get a little gross. They’re outdoor toys! That’s what they’re for! The summer sun gives us the perfect excuse to clean them all up though. I arm my kids with a wash tub of soapy water, a scrubbing brush or sponge, and a pile of dirty toys. They wash toy trucks, balls, cars, even their bikes sometimes! They love it.
  5. Sink or Float Tub – Fill a baby pool or large storage tub with water. Let your kids experiment with different items from around the yard and house discovering which will sink and which will float. Depending on their age, you can even have them record their predictions and then the results of the experiment.

Water Games for the Pool

  1. Mystery Colors – When I was a kid, this was one of my FAVORITE games. My kids aren’t huge fans of having their faces in the water, so we haven’t added this to our own rotation just yet. One person stands in the water and holds the other person in their arms. The holder thinks of a color. The person being held tries to guess what color it is. Each time the guess is incorrect, the guesser gets dunked. When they guess correctly, the holder flips them over into the water.
  2. Sharks and Minnows – This game is almost as classic as Marco Polo. One person is named the shark and starts on one side of the pool. All of the other players line up on the opposite wall. When the shark is ready, he/she yells “All fish in!” and the game is on! The minnows try to cross the pool and tag the opposite wall before being tagged by the shark. If someone is tagged by the shark, they join the shark’s team for the following rounds until there is only one minnow left. That person is then the new shark.
  3. Octopus – This game is similar to Sharks and Minnows with a few small adjustments. The octopus begins in the middle of the pool. Swimmers try to cross the pool without being tagged by the octopus. If they are tagged, they must connect to the original octopus in the center of the pool for each of the following rounds. As more swimmers are tagged in each round, the “octopus” grows bigger and bigger. The final swimmer remaining is the winner.
  4. Horse Races – Have you ever noticed how much like a stick horse a pool noodle is when you straddle it in the pool? This makes for some hilarious horse racing in the pool. Racers saddle up on one side of the pool and race while staying on their horse. This is a great game for a wide range of swimmers.
  5. Pool Tag – Remember playing freeze tag on the playground? This is the same game set into the water. One swimmer is “it” and works to tag other swimmers in the pool. When tagged, swimmers must freeze by either standing still or treading water. To unfreeze a fellow swimmer, you can swim underwater between their legs if they’re standing or just underneath if they’re treading water.
  6. Underwater Charades – Goggles are required for this underwater production, but kids love it! Players take turns acting out something from TV, movies, books, or any other category they can come up with. The other players have a chance after each underwater performance to make a guess. There aren’t very strict rules for this one, it’s really just about being silly, having fun, and seeing if someone else can figure out what in the world you’re doing!
  7. Towel Tents – Most kids dread the adult swim whistle at the neighborhood pool. How could you not be at least a little excited about making a tent with the pool chairs and towels though? If you don’t want your kids to ruin their suits (especially the material most girls’ suits are made out of), make sure they put a floor towel down first. Then let the creativity kick in and the adult swim will be over before they know it!
  8. GreatWaterGames

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